Playlist: I Love You, Earth
Nine Songs to Inspire Earth Worship This Earth Day
Our planet is so unique, so lovely, and so multifaceted. She is a spread of land and sea, vaster than we could ever imagine, home to millions of species and crazy beautiful life.
The earth is a tiny speck amongst infinite more in a space too huge to comprehend. So mysterious, beautiful, experimental, exploratory and artistic, she is a miracle and deserves all of our appreciation.
April 22 marks 53 years of Earth Day, which traces its roots to the modern environmental movement that originated in the United States. Since then, Earth Day has grown to become a global event, with people from all over the world coming together to show their support for environmental protection. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in more than 190 countries, making it one of the largest environmental events in the world.
I love our earth because she represents life and growth to the fullest. Because despite the horrific injury we cause to her, she remains forgiving. Because she has birthed me and you and everyone we love so much.
What about you? Why do you love our earth and how will you worship her this Earth Day? But first—musical accompaniment for your thoughts. Here are nine songs to get you into the spirit.
Listen to the full playlist on Spotify here.
PHASE 1: SIMPLE AFFIRMATIONS
Okay, let’s get into the right headspace. Put on “I Love You Earth,” by Yoko Ono, and repeat the last six lines as a simple affirmation:
I love you, I love you
(I love you, I love you)
I love you, earth
I love you, I love you
(I love you, I love you)
I love you now
PHASE 2: VISUALISATION
Close your eyes and put on “I Will Be,” by Florence + The Machine. You’ll literally feel like you’re in a forest of weeping willows, dawn filtering through the leaves, just stumbling across the ruins of a beautiful temple with stained glass windows and flowering vines embracing its walls. What better visual backdrop to start your day with?
Make sure you sing along, but make the lyrics your own (manifest and visualise; attach your own meaning here, but remember to keep in mind the earth, your environment and the people around you):
I will be
I will be
I will be
I will be
PHASE 3: LOVE THE PRESENT
When we think of life and the enigmatic nature of time, sometimes a song can help with the process. “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” begs us to think about life, its complexities, and everyone we love.
This song is originally by Sandy Denny, but Nina Simone’s famously warm, androgynous voice translates the emotion of the song in a tangible way. The music is slow-paced and the lyrics are written to perceive events in relation to timeless things of the natural world. The lyricism is beautiful and I encourage you to listen closely.
Who knows where the time goes? I don’t, but what I do know is it doesn’t matter: some things are timeless, and those are the things that do matter. Perhaps we aren’t meant to obsess over time in its multitude of meanings, over what happens to it or where it goes.
Perhaps we’re only meant to love and appreciate the time we have in the present, with those we love on this planet, appreciating each moment in harmony with each other and the earth. Just some food for thought this Earth Day.
PHASE 4: BE MORE LIKE THE EARTH
“Come Smoke My Herb,” by Meshell Ndegeocello. Deeply sensual, Meshell’s inherently profound voice and ethereal instrumentation sound like the music of Earth herself, if that were possible.
Drenched with rich, lushly textured bass that groove warmly and luxuriantly, this song is a perfect mix of dub reggae, mid-'70s soul and groove jazz. Listen closely to the lyrics as she sings―so s-l-o-o-o-o-w-l-y―it sounds as if Mother Earth herself is literally telling us to become more like her:
Make your heart like the ocean
Your mind like the clear blue sky
[ … ]
Be simple like the flowers
PHASE 5: APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY IN HARMONY
“Lazy Calm” is aptly named. Peaceful and serene, the song provides a fitting symbol for how simple and sweet life on earth can be, though hints of livelier moments are to be expected.
The music conveys this sensation in an interesting way, and the sound is something like the soundtrack of the earth’s ice caps. The guitar is elusive and spacey as icy mist. A helix effect throughout the song that seems to spiral round and round adds beautiful colour to the already rich music. After a few minutes of chords, a saxophone adds its melancholic contribution to the opening parts, played by Richard Thomas from Dif Juz.
The vocals are heartbreakingly angelic and render like an instrument of their own: like wildlife in the beautiful but barren tundra, descending, trilling, and dancing throughout. The lyrics are chosen for their sounds rather than their meaning, and seem formed of an invented language.
With its overall serenity and occasional bursts of activity, it is pretty tempting to think of the song as representative of a typical polar day: a lengthy darkness with a beautiful spell of daylight. Or you could just see it as a nice song, which might be the sensible approach.
PHASE 6: MEDITATION ON THE EARTH AND HER FORGIVENESS
A pressing question as you learn more about the earth and our relationship with her: “Why Do You Love Me?” by Harold Budd and Cocteau Twins. Perhaps a question from all of humankind to our planet―why do you love us? why do you house us and life us, while we extinct your species and pollute your waters?―and perhaps a question we will never know the answer to.
“Why Do You Love Me?” is so watery, cosmic and ethereal that it nearly defies words (perhaps fitting, for a wordless instrumental piece). It is hard to place a clear rhythm to the piano that glosses over the underlying hum; it simply flows on its own wavelength. For now, simply meditate on the images and emotions this song brings forth, and maybe pose another question to the earth: Forgive us?
PHASE 7: KNOW WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES.
We’ve all made mistakes. “Didn’t Cha Know,” by Erykah Badu, never felt more reassuring, the sound spinning like the earth on her axis.
The song uses a sample from Tarika Blue’s 1977 funky New York jazz record―“Dreamflower”―known for its seminal instrumentation. Badu contrasts chill vibes with despairing lyrics: “Think I made a wrong turn back there somewhere.” This is something we all relate to. We all know what moments of being lost feel like. But the earth is all about life and growth, remember? Take this Earth Day to reflect on your mistakes, appreciate your growth, and allow yourself to be comforted by the sumptuous bassline and a reassuring rimshot clack at the end of the song:
Love is life
And life is free
Take a ride
On life with me
Free your mind
And find your way
There will be
A brighter day
PHASE 8: COMMUNION WITH MOTHER NATURE
Next up: “Queendom,” by Aurora. Nature is a recurring theme and source of inspiration for Aurora’s music.
Lyrically, Aurora creates a Queendom to rule in communion with Mother Nature. As a queen, she embodies all the natural elements: the sea (water), the sun (fire), wind (air), and the mountains (earth). Maybe this is what we need: to celebrate communion in lieu of control.
The sounds of this song melt and crash together like ocean waves on a windy day. It is hard to understand why Aurora’s voice feels so spiritual, serene and healing. Perhaps she is a human singing bowl.
PHASE 9: HOPE AND SORROW FOR OUR FUTURE
Perhaps the most important song to this process. I hope that someday soon we can all sing and dance merrily and appreciate the earth in all its beauty, for its beauty. But sing along to “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun,” by Gaelynn Lea, and it’ll be clear why I know different:
Don't tell me we've got time
The subtle thief of life
It slips away when we pay no mind
We pulled the weeds out til the dawn
Nearly too tired to carry on
Someday we'll linger in the sun
And I love you
And I love you
Between hypnotic violin loops and distinct vocal interjections, a message is clear: we don’t have long before our own actions lead to irreversible grief. Huge carbon dioxide emissions released by humans have increased the earth’s average surface temperature over 1.18 degrees Celsius since the late 1900s. It's a stark reminder that we need to act fast to protect our environment and prevent irreversible damage.
Over 1 million species are at risk of extinction from climate change. Oceans will be destroyed, super storms will become even more super, cities will flood, the air will suck, and we’ll run out of food and energy. The earth will continue her revolutions, but will we be there to join her, to linger in the sun? I don’t know.
In the meantime, go hug a tree. Go meditate by a river, go donate to a nonprofit, go pick up some trash nearby.
Happy Earth Day, lovely!